US ends logistical support for Bolivia drug fight


LA PAZ — The United States is ending its logistical and financial support of Bolivia's fight against drugs with a donation of equipment, Washington's top envoy said.

"This is the end of an era," Larry Memmott, the US embassy's charge d'affaires and highest-ranking official in Bolivia, told private radio Erbol.

Within the framework of counternarcotics conventions, the United States donated eight helicopters, as well as three transport aircraft and a small plane.

Memmott said the Bolivian government had been formally notified of the donation, a move confirmed by Felipe Caceres, Bolivia's deputy social defense minister.

A source at the US embassy in La Paz who requested anonymity told AFP that the transfer of all material would be made by September after talks with the Bolivian government that began last year.

The development comes amid unresolved diplomatic friction between La Paz and Washington, mainly in the form of verbal attacks by the country's leftist President Evo Morales, a friend of US foes Cuba, Iran and Venezuela who often condemns White House policies.

With the arrival to power of Morales in January 2006, US assistance gradually decreased to $11 million in 2013, while in years past it had exceeded $60 million annually.

Morales expelled the US Drug Enforcement Administration in late 2008 along with the US ambassador, accusing them of supporting an alleged plot to overthrow him. Washington denied the existence of such a plot and reciprocated by expelling the Bolivian ambassador.

Morales has on several occasions said that his country was better off without the United States in fighting drug trafficking.

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